Why Women Should Vote

My response to an e-mail message.

The other day, I got an e-mail message from a cousin of mine back east. The title of the e-mail was “Why Women Should Vote.” It was one of those typical “forward this” e-mails that tries to fire people up about one thing or another. It included the usual bold and UPPERCASE text and images. (I guess folks think that pictures can help make their case.)

I need to say here that my cousin did not write this e-mail. She just forwarded it. She often forwards messages about topics of interest to women.

I get a few of these forwarded e-mail messages each day. I agree with and enjoy reading about half of them. Some of them don’t even get read — I just delete them. And some of them — like this one — get under my skin and prompt me to respond and blog about it. Regular readers may recall “The Star Spangled Banner, In Spanish?

suffragettes.jpgThe message was a combination history lesson and call for action. It began with the sentence, “This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.” I knew I was in for it when I saw a series of sepia-tinted photos of suffragettes on the march. I fully admit that I didn’t read the whole thing.

Instead, I thought about the idea that women should need a special reason to vote. And frankly, it made me angry. I wrote a response:

Women should vote for the same reason men should vote: it’s our RESPONSIBILITY as part of a democratic society. It has nothing to do with women’s rights or anything else that’s specific to women. We vote to have our say. Anyone who is eligible to vote and doesn’t is an IDIOT, plain and simple. They’re giving up their right to have a say in the future of our country.

Use it or lose it — that can apply to the democratic process, too.

And don’t you think this “battle of the sexes” nonsense has gone on too long? If we we acted like PEOPLE rather than WOMEN we’d be treated like people. That’s how I’ve always worked in male-dominated fields — finance, computers, and now aviation — and I’ve never had any problems.

Thanks for including me in your distribution lists, but you really don’t need to. I get an awful lot of e-mail and really don’t have time to wade through it all. I guarantee that I already THINK about things like this far more than most of the people in this country — people who care more about American Idol and Paris Hilton than how their congressman voted or what the votes were about. I don’t need e-mails that spell everything out for me with pictures, clip art, historical trivia, or angry words directed against one group or another.

Don’t be offended, please.

I didn’t get a response and honestly don’t expect to. There are far too many women who are quick to make us into some sort of special case. While I hope she understands my point, I don’t think this e-mail will change her point of view.

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3 thoughts on “Why Women Should Vote

  1. I think it’s a bit worse than this because these sorts of pseudo feminist causes detract from more serious, and more complicated discussion of genuine sexual discrimination; for example, equal pay. In the UK it’s documented that women in some professions have not made any material progress in the last 10 years. They still earn the same % less than men doing the same job.

    Every time someone gets on the bandwagon about trivia, real issues like corporate glass ceilings continue to never get on the agenda. In effect, continually bleating about nonsense does the same as ‘talking out’ a Bill, the tactic used to prevent discussion but it’s so much worse when the apparent supporters are those doing it.

    Good for you though, that you responded, I think most people would have just hit delete.

  2. I was looking for a copy of the email you reference above so I could share it with some friends and colleauges of mine, when I came across your commentary.

    On the one hand, I understand your reaction. I truly believe that everyone should vote. You shouldn’t need a special reason to vote. It is your duty, your responsibility and your privilege.

    Unfortunately, the reality is this – not everyone votes. Many people have come to feel that their vote won’t make a difference. Many feel that the machine that is our government is simply too big to truly impact with a single vote.

    For those who don’t have the same sense of responsibility toward voting, messages like this can inspire them to act. As someone who has worked in the field of corporate communications and change management, I am very aware that people need more than a sense of obligation to act. Just because something is “the right thing to do” doesn’t mean people will do it. Targeted messages matter and are often effective. Reminding women, or any group, how precious the right to vote is should not be considered a bad message or an insulting message.

    Many women my age (I won’t share that detail right now) don’t have a memory of an America where women couldn’t vote, or an America where women didn’t have freedom over their reproductive systems. Reminding them why their vote matters and what is at stake is important.

    I vote because I am an American citizen who wants to do all that I can to shape my government, my community and my world. I vote because I want to. I vote as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a citizen, as an educated person, as a member of the workforce…..you get the idea.

    Maybe we can spend less time being offended by this stuff and spend more time understanding why these messages matter and how they can inspire people to take action.

  3. I’m a feminist but only in the respect that I believe women should have equal treatment. It really bugs me when women try to make themselves “equal” by emphasizing all the differences between themselves and men, including their struggles toward equality.

    I agree with pretty much everything you say, Long-Time, but I remain bothered by the fact that some women use (and perhaps need) these kinds of messages to get up and vote. Their gender doesn’t matter. Their history of not having the vote does not matter. What matters is that they exercise their right — like any other American — to (as you said) shape their government, community, and world.

    Frankly, I believe that too many people are angry about the past to just let it go and move forward. By continuously dragging out the injustices of the past — including far worse ones like slavery and genocide — we keep that anger and hate simmering in the background. We need to get over it and move on.

    Or perhaps I just don’t understand the mentality of women who doubt their equality and need messages like this to prod them to vote. It has never been a doubt in my mind.

What do you think?